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Want to know if NMR is better than IRMS for honey testing?

NMR testing is a relatively new approach for testing honey samples for fraud and shows great potential as a non-targeted analytical test. IRMS (sometimes referred to as SIRA) has been, and still is, the only standard method for detecting exogenous sugars in honey. But what does that mean for your laboratory? Will IRMS be surpassed by this new analytical technology? Should you invest you time, energy and money into NMR?

This white paper discusses the situation with NMR and IRMS testing of honey and will provide you with the insight you need as you prepare your honey testing facility for the future. 


Download the white paper

Whitepaper "IRMS and NMR: Which method represents the future of honey adulteration testing?"
IRMS and NMR: Which method represents the future of honey adulteration testing?

Authentic or adulterated?

Honey adulteration testing hits the sweet spot

Rising honey prices, more affluent customers, and changing environmental conditions, coupled with bee health issues from pesticides, mites and viruses are putting ever more pressure on honey producers to supply their products, and increasing the likelihood of adulteration being used to satisfy demand. 

Official studies of the extent of honey adulteration in the European Union and Canada has been shown to range between 15 - 22 %. Other studies have suggested that adulteration may be considerably more than this. To ensure that producers and consumers are protected from this illegal practice, authorities and industry must invest in analytical testing of honey. Stable carbon isotope ratio analysis (SCIRA) is an established technique in the fight against honey fraud and Elementar is proud to deliver the next generation of SCIRA testing, BiovisION Honey.

Stable isotope analysis can detect adulterated honey
The solution

BiovisION Honey, Elementar’s solution for honey fraud detection

Our new BiovisION Honey solution is a complete honey testing platform for the stable carbon isotope ratio analysis (SCIRA) compliant with AOAC 998.12 for C4 honey adulteration as well as the detection of C3 honey adulteration using our new, easy-to-use high temperature combustion method for LC-IRMS.

The same instrument is also capable of validating the geographical origin of honey using multi-elemental isotopic analysis and using chemometric analysis and comparison against a database of authentic samples. For more information, please see the BiovisION Honey product brochure.

Isotope ratio mass spectrometer system BiovisION Honey

Simpler and more robust than any other system

The BiovisION Honey harnesses Elementar’s extensive experience of high temperature oxidation chemistry to deliver a completely new liquid chromatography– isotope ratio mass spectrometry (LC-IRMS) solution. This new technology is a substantial improvement over existing wet-chemical oxidation LC-IRMS systems which suffer from extensive reliability issues, leading to unaffordable inefficiency in the laboratory. High-temperature oxidation is simpler and significantly more robust generating a better return on investment without compromising analytical quality. Check out our infographic to learn more about how our instrument outperforms its rivals.

Poster preview: BiovisION Honey vs competitors

Download our head-to-head analysis

Poster BiovisION Honey vs. competitors
How BiovisION Honey outperforms its rivals in honey fraud detection

Detect a range of honey fraud with BiovisION Honey

The detection of the adulteration of honey with C4-type sugars is a method standardized by AOAC (998.12). This method utilizes Elemental Analyzer—Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (EA-IRMS). The method determines the δ13C of the honey protein and the honey sugars and determines the difference between them. If the protein and sugars are the same, there is no presence of C4 sugars in the honey. If there is a difference between the values additional C4 sugars are illegally present in the honey.


The detection of the adulteration of honey with C3-type sugars requires a more sophisticated method. Since honey is derived from C3-type plants, and adulteration with C3-type sugars cannot be detected by AOAC 998.12 method. Instead, the honey is separated into constituent sugars using liquid chromatography. The separated sugars are then converted to CO2 and the δ13C of the individual sugars is determined. Differences in δ13C value of the carbohydrate are then calculated to evaluate the presence of C3-type sugar adulteration.

Sugar beet field

As well as performing adulteration detection, the BiovisION Honey EA-IRMS system can help detect the fraudulent behaviour of declaring honey as a product of a different origin than its true origin. By analyzing the nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen isotope ratios of honey as well as the carbon isotope ratios, a unique “isotopic fingerprint” can be developed. Coupled to Elementar’s Analytical Results Database (ArDB) software tool, authentic samples can be discerned from fraudulent samples with ease.

World map with marker

Learn more about C4 and C3 honey fraud detection with BiovisION Honey

Detection of C4 adulteration of honey according to AOAC 998.12
Detection of sugar adulteration of honey using a new highly robust LC-IRMS technique

Highlights of BiovisION Honey

Extreme durability

Outstanding robustness and longevity thanks to state-of-the-art technology and a 10-year furnace warranty

Low cost of ownership

Instrument sleep/wake-up functions for reduced consumption of resources

Ease of use

Easy, labor-saving instrument operation and sample preparation, with simplified maintenance

High data quality

Outstanding precision and accuracy through high-performance combustion, no isotope fractionation

What our customers say

So far, the Elementar LC-IRMS instrument has been very impressive for C4 and C3 honey adulteration analysis. The high-temperature combustion method means that no aggressive chemicals such as sodium persulfate are required, which can lead to blocked tubes, noisy baselines and instrument downtime. 

The instrument hardware is easy to maintain and offers automatic routines for performance checks running overnight. We are now much closer to running samples 24/7.

Ulrike Burmester, Senior lab supervisor for authenticity stable isotope and NMR food services at Intertek Food Services GmbH, Germany

The team from Intertek Food Services with the BiovisION Honey+ LC-IRMS System
The team from Intertek Food Services with the BiovisION Honey+ LC-IRMS system from Elementar for honey authenticity testing

Elementar has provided excellent instruments to my laboratory and the great support of the local Elementar China engineers has been very important to successfully analyze the 5,000 samples per year that we have passing through the laboratory. In particular, the software is very impressive and makes running the instruments very simple and efficient making my life much easier than other IRMS software used by other manufacturers.

Dr Wu Hao, Senior Engineer working at the Technical Centre of Food Inspection and Quarantine at Shenzhen Customs, China

Dr Wu with the isoprime precisION IRMS system installed in 2018
Dr Wu with the isoprime precisION IRMS system installed in 2018

Interested? Contact us!

Contact us if you would like to know more about the BiovisION Honey IRMS system. We will be happy to provide you with further information and schedule an online demo with you.
Do you have any questions?
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